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UNIROYAL HALTS SALE OF ALAR VOLUNTARILY

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The Uni-royal Chemical Co. announced Friday it will voluntarily halt the sale of the fruit-ripening agent Alar due to widespread public concern over the chemical's safety.

However, the company maintains the product, used to enhance color and promote the shelf life of apples, is safe and "it has been used safely for 20 years. There is no scientifically valid reason to stop using it."The announcement comes four months after the Environmental Protection Agency said it would move to ban the chemical because laboratory studies had linked it to development of tumors in animals.

Despite that finding, the EPA said it would not use its emergency powers to suspend use of Alar but would follow its usual administrative process for withdrawing a pesticide, which can take up to 18 months.